(Submitted by Aaron Toth) Those who lived through high school almost certainly remember Robert Frost’s ubiquitous poem titled “The Road Not Taken.” Down Ford Motor Company’s untrodden path could have easily rolled the Mustang I concept car, a car that, according to the following period Ford video, was nearly production ready.
It certainly impressed car loving bystanders with its capable handling and racy looks. Technically, it’s fascinating to anyone interested in 1960s car technology, utilizing a neat German Ford V4 (yep, a V4) with a hotter camshaft and carburetion. It used off the shelf Ford of England brakes, and a tube chassis and body hand formed by Troutman and Barnes of California. It looks like just about anybody of note in the car world, including Dan Gurney, got a crack at the wheel of this seemingly well-sorted prototype. The adjustable pedals and steering wheel might have taken some getting used to, as would the manual headlights, but those are issues that probably would have been sorted out for production.
Obviously, Ford made the right financial decision in abandoning this car for the Mustang that we know, but how interesting a competitor for Alfas, Triumphs, and MGs would this thing have been? Today, the one and only running example sits at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. I’ve been visiting it for years, but imagine my surprise when my Dad (who worked at our local Ford dealer in the late 60s and early 70s) said that that exact car sat in the service department in a corner for at least a year. I’ve heard stories about some fanatical Ford employees hiding that car over the years to keep it from suffering an ignominious fate. Dad said that nobody really made a big deal about it at the time, and that he probably moved it and drove it around the lot a time or two. If that’s the case, my Dad’s a lucky guy. I wonder where the Mustang I sojourned before it found its way home.